Monday, 18 December 2017


The flying, floating, roof-riding and otherwise cool and unusual tents of 2017
By C.C. Weiss,
New Atlas, 15 December 2017.

As much as young, adventure lovers have helped push forward a new generation of camper vans, they've also been behind an ever-evolving tent camping scene. Suddenly high-flying tree tents and roofed hammocks are all the rage and tents are getting as social as the Web. The basic ground tent was nearly more the exception than the rule in 2017, as tents that dangle from trees and cliffs, float on water, and ride atop motor vehicles hoarded the spotlight.

Camping in thin air

Hammocks have become an extremely popular and trendy piece of outdoor kit, and more than a few outdoor start-ups have devoted themselves to letting you enjoy that tree-swaying, high-slung comfort for nights at a time, all comfy and protected from the weather.

1. TreePod Camper


Adding to the broadening tree tent market, TreePod puts its own spin on the suspended tent. Instead of securing to trees via the corners of its floor, like the Tentsile Flite and others, TreePod's Camper hangs by the peak of its roof, relying on aluminum body and floor frame pieces and high-tensile-strength fabric to create a canopy structure.

Since the two-person tent secures to a branch via a single point, it's supposed to be easier to set up than more complex designs with multiple attachment points. Beyond that, you just stake out the guy lines and enjoy your hovering camp.

The US$575 Camper had been scheduled for an April launch, but as of publishing, it's not listed on TreePod's Web store.

2. Treble Hammock 2.0


Designed to relax like a recliner but sleep flat like a bed, the Treble Hammock 2.0 is designed to be the perfect day/night tree tent solution. Like many tree tents, it features a triangular floor, but Treble has created sit and sleep modes. So you can sit up in your own no-gravity camp chair before quickly adjusting to a flat sleeping position. A divider strap splits the floor right down the middle, creating individual seating/sleeping nooks for two people. The rain fly can be used in both modes, either popped open for breezy views or battened down for maximum protection. A separate bug net keeps the pests out.

After its Kickstarter was unsuccessful in August, Treble was successful with a more modest goal in September, and it said it would use the money raised for a smaller production run, with deliveries beginning in January 2018.

3. 37.5 Technology cliffside pop-up shop


The prize for coolest hanging tent of 2017 is up for debate, but we don't think there'll be much argument about the award for coolest use of a hanging tent. Back in August, the folks at performance fabric company 37.5 Technology created what they called the "world's most remote pop-up shop." We're inclined to believe them because they operated out of a Black Diamond Cabana Double Portaledge climbing tent hung on a sheer cliff face above Boulder, Colorado at an elevation just under 6,700 feet (2,042 m).

The "shop" part is a bit of a misnomer since 37.5 actually handed out free clothing made from its volcanic sand and coconut fiber-based fabric. But we guess if you climbed up the 350-ft (107-m) crag in Eldorado Canyon State Park, you earned yourself a bit of swag.

Sure, it was basically just a marketing stunt, but it was pretty unique and did raise US$15,000 for various climbing organizations – US$100 for each of the 150 climbers who stopped by. You can read more about the effort it took to "open shop" from 37.5...or just keep your eyes set high, as it hasn't ruled out popping up at another popular crag.

Camping the high seas...or at least a pond or lake

You love playing in the water all day, so why not sleep there (or at least on your favorite water toy)? That's the strategy a few tent makers are taking, and if you're using an inflatable watercraft, it might just make sense.

4. SmithFly Shoal


Out of the few different watercraft tents we saw this year, the SmithFly Shoal looked like the least capable watercraft. In fact, we're not sure you'd want to paddle it very far at all. But the Shoal also looked like the one you'd most enjoy camping in. Its flat inflatable raft/floor looks downright cozy, and the broad-sided tent rises high enough for about 6.3 ft (1.9 m) of standing room after inflating into shape. SmithFly says it'll hold up to high winds and weather, but we reckon you better have a good anchor when out on the water. If water camping doesn't work out, the tent can be used back on land.

The US$1,499 price tag looks a little ridiculous, but there's not exactly a ton of competition in the water-top camping market. SmithFly is advertising January deliveries on new orders.

5. Hold Up Le Tunnel


Whether or not you like the idea of sleeping on the water, using your inflatable watercraft as a sleeping pad does make some sense. Why carry an inflatable sleeping pad when you already have one in the form of a raft or paddleboard?

The folks at Hold Up have designed the Le Tunnel tent to work with their Trekker paddleboard in creating a solo shelter with inflatable SUP mattress below you and weatherproof shelter over your head. On the water, the tent stows in a dry bag strapped to the board, so you have a familiar, performance-oriented paddleboard to use during the day and a shelter at night.

Hold Up and its products came to our attention during the ISPO show back in February, but the company has not yet added the Le Tunnel (or pricing information) to its online store.

Living at penthouse level

Roof-top tents (RTT) is another category of outdoor shelter that has seen an explosion in recent years, pulling campers up off the ground for a comfy night of sleep. Basic soft-sided flip-outs and hard-shell pop-tops still rule, but 2017 saw several companies exploring new tent types and tweaked designs.

6. iKamper Skycamp


When we first saw the Hardtop One, we knew iKamper was on to something. Hard-shell roof-top tents are prized for their sleeker form and easier set-up and teardown, but they're limited in interior space due to the fact that their footprints are contained within the confines of the vehicle roof. IKamper gives the hard-shell RTT the ability to expand out beyond that footprint and sleep a family of four.

In place of the Hardtop One's sliding floor extension, the new Skycamp uses a fold-out extension to create a more spacious interior for three adults or two adults and two children. And though it pops and folds, instead of just popping up like other hard-shells, you're still only looking at about a minute of set-up time. Another nice feature: detachable fabric, so you can go breezy mesh in the summer and heavier canvas in the cooler months.

It seems the market was ready for exactly this type of RTT, as iKamper raised over US$2 million on Kickstarter earlier this year. It's been shipping tents out to backers and is now offering tents at retail prices between US$3,300 and US$3,500, depending upon fabric selection. You'll find these tents, along with some accessories, at iKamper's online store.

7. Gentletent GT Roof


While iKamper and others were working to improve upon traditional RTT designs, some other industry minds were thinking outside the box. Australia's Moab Rooftop Tents plopped a dome tent on the roof, while Austria's Gentletent put some air into RTT design, introducing the GT Roof inflatable tent at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. The GT Roof's five-minute set-up is actually a bit longer than hard-shell RTTs, but on the plus side, the two-person comes in at a company-estimated 44 lb/20 kg (the Skycamp above weighs around 150 lb/68 kg, for comparison).

The inflatable floor sounds like a comfortable bonus, but we have trouble thinking about a lightweight, inflatable roof-top tent without picturing those giant wind tube men that local businesses use to catch your attention. Hopefully, the €2,300 (approx. US$2,700) Gentletent GT Roof experience is better than the one we're picturing.

Go it alone or with the entire crew

8. RhinoWolf


The internet isn't the only place that folks like to be social. Millennials have been transforming outdoor activities from goal-oriented, gear-obsessed sporting ventures to more relaxed social experiences. So grab a beer, play a little cornhole and prepare to retire in a monster tent with a dozen or two of your bestest and newest friends.

The RhinoWolf was one of the modular, expandable tent systems we saw this year, and it took on a different form from others. Each 2.8-lb (1.3-kg) freestanding shelter is small enough to use as a solo backpacking tent, but if you find yourself missing the experience of tenting with others, you can zip one RhinoWolf together with one or two more to create a larger two- or three-person shelter.

This capability is limited only by the number of tents at the campsite, and perhaps the terrain, so, with the right number of RhinoWolfs and a desire to do it, you can create a long camping tunnel for everyone at camp. Each RhinoWolf is designed specifically around a Klymit sleeping pad and zip-in quilt, creating an all-in-one sleeping solution that weighs in at around 5.5 lb (2.5 kg).

RhinoWolf held a successful Indiegogo campaign earlier this year, and according to a late-November update on that campaign, it was on track to start shipping before the end of 2017.

If you're looking for outdoor gear every bit as cool and innovative as these tents, be sure to check out our camping gadget and gift favorites.

See more images at the gallery.

Top image: 37.5 Cliffside Shop. Credit: 37.5 Technology.

[Source: New Atlas.]

Sunday, 17 December 2017


In Memoriam: The Tech That Died in 2017
By Eric Griffith,
PCMag, 15 December 2017.

Every year brings its hardships and losses. The tech world is not immune; brands and gadgets come and go. A must-have device or addictive service is easily discarded as VC funds dry up and newer, shinier offerings emerge.

Once again, PCMag is here to remind you of the tech tools and interfaces that will not be joining us in 2018 (until a future re-launch; I'm looking at you, Polaroid). We're not talking about the start-ups that barely got off the ground, but the well-known brands that said farewell in the past 12 months.

Many were forgotten by the masses long ago; it may surprise you they even still existed in 2017. But all (okay, most) are worthy of a quick doff of the hat in respect for the fallen.

(For a look back, check out the tech we lost in 2015 and 2016.)

1. AOL Instant Messenger, Alto Email

Verizon now owns what's left of AOL - what many of us used to call America Online - and this year, it took a couple of AOL features out of commission, permanently. The first to go on Dec. 10 was the AOL Alto Email Service. It was supposed to be a smart inbox for mobile users, but failed to get any traction after five years.

The same can't be said for AOL Instant Messenger, aka AIM, which most of us probably used at one time or another. But in the last decade, rival services like iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Snapchat, and a billion other messaging services easily eclipsed AIM, and its user base dwindled. The writing was on the wall back in March when AOL pulled third-party support from the AIM service. By October, the original instant messaging service's fate was sealed, and AIM was dead by Dec. 15. RIP.

2. CompuServe Forums


CompuServe's Forums - an internet destination that was all the rage back in the early 90s - went dark on Dec. 15. You'd be forgiven for thinking they were no longer a thing, but remarkably, they have lived on - until today. No explanation was given for the closure. However, like AIM, CompuServe is now under the control of Verizon-owned Oath.

3. Net Neutrality

The saddest thing on this year's list is the death of a principle: an open and free internet where ISPs treat all data the same no matter the source.

The term net neutrality dates back to 2003, coined by Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, but didn't really start making headlines until 2007 when Comcast was accused of blocking P2P traffic. That led to an enforcement action under the GOP-led FCC, and the introduction of formal net neutrality rules under Obama in 2009. But the issue was then caught up in the courts for years as ISPs like Verizon sued, arguing that the FCC did not have the authority to regulate broadband providers.

By 2014, the FCC made the controversial decision to reclassify broadband as a telecom service rather than an information service. Broadband had become a public utility like water or electricity - not a luxury, the FCC argued. And that argument held up - until Trump won and selected Ajit Pai as FCC chairman.

Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, hates the "utility-style regulatory approach" and thinks the internet has fared just fine without regulation. He voted against the net neutrality rules in 2015 when he was just a commissioner, and moved to gut them when he became chairman. This week, he got his wish, when the FCC voted 3 to 2 on party lines to reverse the Obama-era net neutrality rules.

All this despite calls by internet pioneers like Tim Berners Lee and many in Congress asking for a pause to the proceedings (if for no other reason than the comment period was full of fake and duplicate comments).

4. iPod Nano and Shuffle


Smartphones pretty much killed MP3 players, but Apple's iPod was still kicking around - until this year. Apple said in July it would kill the last two standalone iPods in its lineup: the iPod nano and shuffle. While you can still buy them until the stock runs out, the screen-free shuffle and small-screen nano won't be getting updates, ever again. Is the iPod touch next?

5. Google Spaces


Launched in 2016, Google Spaces was supposed to be a messaging app for small groups to help them get organized, sort of like Slack, but not just for businesses. Heralded as a "pointless exercise" almost immediately, Google must have agreed. It killed Spaces in under a year.

6. Wunderlist, Word Flow, and Groove Music


Microsoft, much like Google, isn't afraid to kill off a service or product that isn't doing much for the bottom line. But unlike its rival, Microsoft often serves up an even better replacement.

That's what happened with Wunderlist, an excellent cloud-based task-management app. It launched in 2013 and was acquired by Microsoft in 2015. But in April, Microsoft introduced To-Do, a new "intelligent task management app" built by the Wunderlist team. To-Do is currently in preview, but once it's up to snuff, Microsoft will retire Wunderlist, so it's perhaps best to familiarize yourself with To-Do (or any of our other favorite to-do list apps).

The same thing happened to Word Flow, a mobile keyboard Microsoft made for Windows Phone but later ported to iOS. It was best known for offering very cool one-handed typing options, as well as GIFs and customized themes. But earlier this year, people noticed that Word Flow was no longer available on iOS. If you search for it in the App Store, you're directed to Swiftkey, a rival keyboard app Microsoft acquired in 2016.

Groove Music, meanwhile, launched in 2012 as Xbox Music, and was intended to take on rival services like Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify. That didn't happen, though; the Groove Music Pass streaming service will shut down on Dec. 31. Music purchased on Groove will still be accessible on OneDrive, and users can get a 60-day free trial of Spotify to fill the void in their lives.

7. Facebook Ticker


Remember when Facebook used to show you things from your friends in chronological order? It gave that up in favor of algorithms a few years back, but to satisfy those who wanted to keep up with every like, comment, and photo, it added the Ticker in 2011. This running stream of all your friends' activities has been clogging up your News Feed ever since, until this month when Facebook unceremoniously axed the feature. Facebook is now all algorithms, all the time.


In 2012, Dalton Caldwell, founder of music service imeem, announced plans for a Kickstarter-like, 30-day online funding campaign that would gather money for a Twitter-like service that would rely on paid subscribers rather than ad dollars. In a video (above) announcing the project, Caldwell said he was "really disappointed with the way that free, Web 2.0 services have let me down." The focus at firms like Twitter, he said, had been on advertisers, resulting in a poor experience for users and developers.

Ultimately, that online funding effort topped $500,000 but not enough people wanted to pay $50 per year for a social media account. By 2014, said it didn't have enough money to pay its employees, and the site languished until March 2017, when it finally shut down.

9. Yik Yak


Yik Yak debuted as an anonymous social media network, and nothing bad ever happens with gossipy, anonymous posts, right? Not exactly. It was once considered a $400 million brand, but anonymous cruelty isn't a great business plan, and the kids lost interest. In the end, Square bought Yik Yak's engineers for $1 million.

10. Jawbone


Launched in 1999 as AliphCom to make communications equipment for soldiers in the field, Jawbone was an early pioneer in Bluetooth audio for cell phones, with unique looking headsets called the Jawbone, from which the company eventually took its final name. By 2010 it was making speakers (JamBox), and the UP brand of wearables debuted in 2011 for a $1.5 billion valuation in 2012.

Despite the buzz - its CEO was in Fortune's 40 Under 40 in 2012 and one of Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2014 - it couldn't last. Jawbone needed investment to keep up with acquisitions and pay its lawyers (it sued Fitbit and lost). By 2015, it was all-in with fitness trackers, but only had 2.8 percent of the market. It liquidated its assets in July.

11. Vertu


Vertu sold ridiculously expensive "luxury" Android phones made with high-end materials like titanium, sapphire, and ostrich leather. But $9,000+ phones were not enough to sustain UK manufacturing operations, which shut down in July. Murat Hakan Uzan, who bought Vertu in March 2017, says he'll bring the brand back someday. We hope so, as it was always fun to include Vertu in roundups of over-priced tech or ridiculously niche smartphones.

12. Lily Flying Camera Drone

When we first discovered Lily back in 2015, we described it as an "action cam with a brain" It was supposed to follow you around and record your every move from on high; simply toss it in the air to get going. Like everyone else, we were astounded it had $34 million in pre-orders the following year. That's a lot, even for a $900 waterproof drone. But it wasn't enough. Lily will never come to market, dead before it even got a chance to live beyond the concept stage. If you ordered one, you should have already received a refund.

13. The Gaming World Mourns


Turbine shut down the servers for the Windows-based MMORPG Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings (from 2003) in January. The original, published by Microsoft, had been running since 1999 and was the third big game of its kind, after Ultima Online and Everquest.

A more recent game was Marvel Heroes, called Marvel Heroes Omega by the end, a free MMORPG famed for having comics writer Brian Michael Bendis involved when it launched in 2013. But this year, Disney (owners of Marvel) cut all ties with the developers at Gazillion Entertainment, the rights went away, and the servers were unceremoniously shut down early since the whole thing put Gazillion out of business.

Nintendo also went on a murder spree in 2017. In April, it stopped selling the Classic Edition retro gaming console. In November, it did away with the Miiverse - the social network within the Wii and 3DS for posting art. And the deaths continue into the future: the Wii Shop for buying games will be killed off fully by 2019.

[Source: PCMag.]

Saturday, 16 December 2017


30 Cities Around the World That No Longer Exist
By Austin Thompson,
Mental Floss, 13 December 2017.

An old Norwegian legend tells of a village that was left utterly depopulated by the Black Death, forgotten, and soon overgrown by moss and trees. Years later, a hunter missed a shot and his arrow hit the bell of what is now known as Hedal Stave Church, rediscovering this abandoned village.

Whatever the truth (or otherwise) of this legend, history is filled with cities that emerged and then were abandoned or forgotten. Some have been rediscovered, and others are still out there, waiting to be found.

1. Stabiae, Italy

Image: Paull Young/Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When Vesuvius exploded in 79 CE, its most famous victims were the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but other towns and villas were buried as well, places such as Boscoreale or Oplontis. The one with the oddest story though is Stabiae. Pliny the Elder recorded that the town had been destroyed by Sulla during the Social War in 89 BCE so completely that only a single farmhouse remained. At some point afterwards, the area was turned into luxury villas - that is, until the eruption of Vesuvius, which destroyed it once again.

In the mid-18th century, archaeologists discovered the ruins of both Pompeii and Stabiae. After some initial excavation work, focus was concentrated on Pompeii, and Stabiae was reburied to protect it. Eventually, the site was forgotten - until the 1950s, when a local high school principal decided to rediscover it. Working with the school’s janitor and a mechanic, they found several archaeological sites, and excavation continues today.

2. Dead Cities, Syria

Image: Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The Dead Cities are a group of around 40 villages in northern Syria that date to the 1st through 7th centuries CE. According to UNESCO, "the relict cultural landscape of the villages also constitutes an important illustration of the transition from the ancient pagan world of the Roman Empire to Byzantine Christianity." They were abandoned quickly, either due to shifting trade routes, weather changes, or a pattern of invasion between the Byzantines and the Umayyads.

But people are returning to the Dead Cities. In 2013, an NPR report described modern smokestacks on the landscape, as refugees began moving into the area.

3. Chan Chan, Peru

Image: David Holt/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu Kingdom, and is believed to have been the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas. The kingdom lasted from circa 900 to 1470, when it was conquered by the Inca. The city began a rapid decline afterwards, to the point that when the Spanish arrived the city had already been effectively abandoned.

4. Hashima Island, Japan

Image: JordyMeow/Pixabay

Also known as Gunkanjima or Battleship Island, this small island off the coast of Japan is thought to have been the most densely populated place on the planet in the 1950s, with over 5000 people crammed onto a 16-acre island (that works out to a population density of 200,000 people per square mile; Manhattan is around a third of that). Made famous as the location of the villainous lair in the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall, Hashima Island was operated for years by Mitsubishi as a coal mine. But when the mine closed in 1974, the island was abandoned.

5. Bannack, Montana, USA


Bannack is generally listed as the first boomtown in Montana: The population rose from a few hundred to thousands of individuals in just a few years after gold was discovered in a nearby creek in 1862. Sadly, by the time it was made Montana’s first territorial capital, the city was already in decline due to crime and other gold deposits being discovered elsewhere in the territory. Less than a year later the territorial capital was moved to Virginia City. In 1954 the state of Montana acquired most of the land, and today it's Bannack State Park.

6. Eastern Settlement, Greenland


Founded by Norse explorers around 986 CE, it's estimated that at its largest, the Eastern Settlement in Greenland had around 5000 people living in the area. By the late 15th century the community had disappeared, leaving only ruins, with the last record of life there being a 1408 marriage between Thorstein Olafsson and Sigrid Björnsdottir. By the time Hans Egede arrived in the 1720s to convert the long-lost colonists to Lutheranism, the Norse Greenlanders had disappeared.

What happened to the settlement has long been debated, but recent archaeology has indicated that Greenland’s exports had ceased being in demand, and as the community became more and more remote, people began migrating back to more centralized communities in Norway, Iceland, and Denmark.

7. Consonno, Italy

Image: Spline Splinson/Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Consonno was originally a medieval town that survived for centuries with a small population of around 300. But in 1962, an entrepreneur named Mario Bagno arrived to convert the community into a Las Vegas-style resort town. Years of construction and demolition followed, until 1976, when a landslide isolated Consonno and ended Bagno's dream of a "City of Toys." The area remained abandoned until 2016, when it hosted an Italian hide-and-seek championship.

8. Lost City, Florida, USA

Image: Mike Mahaffie/Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

According to South Florida's Sun-Sentinel, deep in the Everglades there was a place called Lost City, and archaeologists have found evidence of human activity, from Seminoles to hiding Confederate soldiers, stretching back hundreds of years. For some reason though, activity spiked in the early 1900s when local legend says that Al Capone had a bootlegging operation there, thanks to the area's high ground and remote location.

9. Fort Mose, Florida, USA

Image: Waters.Justin/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

In the late 17th and 18th centuries, Florida was an area of Spanish land next to several English colonies. In order to help protect against English encroachment and weaken the nearby colonies, the Spanish in Florida offered a form of asylum to escaped slaves in exchange for converting to Catholicism and serving Spain. This gave rise to Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, otherwise known as Fort Mose, on the outskirts of St. Augustine. While it was largely established to protect St. Augustine from British attack, the site is also the earliest known European-sanctioned free black community in the modern United States. The fort was destroyed in 1740 and rebuilt, but lost much of its importance. After the Spanish gave Florida to Britain in 1763, the community moved to Cuba.

10. Kolmanskop, Namibia

Image: SkyPixels/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

In the early 20th century, Kolmanskop played host to European opera companies, an orchestra, and even the southern hemisphere's first X-ray unit. The city was built on an extremely productive diamond field (the BBC estimates that it produced a million carats of diamond in 1912, 12 percent of the world’s production that year). Eventually, World War I and the discovery of larger deposits further south led to the abandonment of the city.

11. Centralia, Pennsylvania, USA

Image: Navy2004/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

In 1960, the population of Centralia, Pennsylvania was 1435 people. By 2010 it was 10. Although the city was already on the decline, it was a decades-long coal fire that killed the city. Although there are some dissenters, it's generally agreed that in 1962, some trash was set on fire and the fire spread to a coal seam. The fire continued to burn and, among other scary events, in 1981 a 13-year-old boy narrowly escaped falling into a hole that opened up in the ground. The government bought most of the remaining citizens out, but a few residents fought to be able to live out their lives there.

12. Little America, Antarctica

Image: Eli Duke/Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

There were five Little Americas over the course of several decades. One of them even featured an American post office and had a newspaper documenting the goings-on. In fact, the only odd part was that it was in Antarctica. Robert Byrd set up the first Little America in 1928, expanded it in 1933-'35, and started a new Little America further north in 1940; two more would eventually follow.

As part of the 1933 Little America, Charles Anderson was sent to run a post office (the Smithsonian has his safe, labeled "U.S. Post Office, Little America, South Pole"). The purpose of this post office was entirely so that philatelists could get a cancellation mark from Antarctica. To get it they had to pay three cents for the stamp and 50 cents to the Byrd Antarctic Expedition; it was a success - anywhere from 150,000 to 240,000 letters were stamped before the post office was discontinued in 1935.

As for the Little Americas, they've drifted out to sea on icebergs and have disappeared.

13. Trellech, Wales

Image: Andy Walker/Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

According to ancient tax rolls, the second largest town in 13th century Wales was likely Trellech, which comprised about 400 buildings before being destroyed, most likely due to a combination of attacks, fire, and disease.

In early 2017, newspapers around the world reported the discovery of Trellech. The story is that in 2002 archaeology graduate Stuart Wilson, working at a tollbooth, learned of a farmer who found pottery shards kicked up by moles. Years later, the property came up for sale and Wilson bought it, hoping to find Trellech, which he claims that he did. Meanwhile, other researchers have criticized the results saying that they're overblown and archaeological work was being done in the broad area before. As for Wilson, he hopes to start a campsite at the area and continues digging.

14. Humberstone, Chile

Image: rewbs.soal/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, saltpeter was huge business as a fertilizer, and much of it came from the Atacama Desert in South America. One of these mining towns was Humberstone, but the modern UNESCO area contained over 200 saltpeter works and dozens of towns popped up. When synthetic fertilizers began appearing, however, saltpeter lost its importance and the cities faded away.

15. Akrotiri, Greece

Image: Bruno Vanbesien/Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Today, Santorini is a picturesque tourist spot, but many visitors don't realize it is located on the remnants of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in human history. Called the Thera or Minoan eruption, it was likely around 4 times the size of Krakatoa. One of the settlements on the island at the time of the eruption nearly 3600 years ago was Akrotiri. Like Pompeii, it was buried by the volcano, but unlike that famed excavation site, there's a noticeable lack of bodies at Akrotiri, indicating that the population had enough warning to escape before the eruption occurred.

16. Taxila, Pakistan

Image: xitus/Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Taxila is a complex that spans 6th century BCE Achaemenian ruins. The city was conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and was a major center of Buddhism. In the 5th century CE, the Ephthalites invaded and destroyed much of the city while simultaneously lessening the presence and influence of Buddhism in the region. When the Ephthalites were defeated, the city wasn't restored, and a century later a chronicler noted that the city was still desolate, soon to be abandoned.

17. Pyramiden, Norway

Image: Hylgeriak/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Svalbard is an archipelago in the far north Arctic Ocean. Before 1920, it existed as an international Wild West, with no nation having ownership. This changed with the Svalbard Treaty that gave the archipelago to Norway on the condition that Norway not unduly interfere with certain rights of other signatories, such as mining activities, based on nationality.

The Norwegians had already attempted to mine coal in the area, but abandoned it, and the Soviet Union stepped in to work the land. According to Bloomberg, as an effectively Western city, Pyramiden had a very high standard of living, recruited the best minds, and served as a display for Communism to the rest of the world. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Pyramiden stopped being economically viable, and after a 1996 plane crash that killed 141 people and destroyed morale in the community, it was abandoned in 1998.

18. Merv, Turkmenistan

Image: David Stanley/Flickr // CC BY 2.0

It's possible that Merv in modern Turkmenistan was the largest city in the world for a few years in the 12th century, with a population around 200,000 people. Merv's wealth came from a strategic position for trade routes and dams that provided the city with water.

In the 13th century, one of Genghis Khan's sons, Tolui, attacked, destroying the city. Although modern historians think it's exaggerated, the chronicler Ibn al-Athir claimed that 700,000 people were killed. The city never recovered, although other towns would be built in the surrounding area.

19. Cahokia, Illinois, USA

Image: Steve Moses/Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Cahokia, located just outside present day St. Louis, was the largest pre-Columbian settlement in the Americas north of modern Mexico. As the main bed of the Mississippian culture, the city grew quickly - some estimates indicate that between 1050 and 1100 CE the city grew from around 2000 people to 15,000 people, which at the time was the same population as London. For reasons that are still debated, the population soon declined and Cahokia was abandoned circa 1350. It may not have been all bad though - some historians suspect that the population decline is what helped spread the Mississippian culture across much of North America.

20. Nan Madol, Federated States of Micronesia

Image: NOAA Photo Library/Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Nan Madol, off the shore of Pohnpei, is best known as the only existing ancient city built on top of a coral reef. Comprising 92 artificial islands, the city served as the center of the Saudeleur dynasty who ruled the island. According to the National Park Service, Nan Madol was built around 1200 CE. Four hundred years later, a warrior-hero named Isokelekel helped overthrow the Saudeleur, leading to the abandonment of the site.

21. Mologa, Russia

Image: Ylliab Photo/Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When the Soviets decided to create the Rybinsk Reservoir on the Volga River in the 1930s, there was only one problem: Mologa and over 600 smaller villages, with a population of around 130,000 people. The residents were forced out, although there is evidence that around 300 people refused to leave and were drowned when the city was flooded in 1940. In 2014, the weather caused the reservoir to drop dramatically, re-exposing parts of the city to the world.

22. Neversink, New York, USA

Image: rabbit57i/Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Another set of flooded towns exist in New York, condemned in the 1940s to give New York City more drinking water. Among these towns are Bittersweet and the either ironically or aptly named Neversink, which was relocated.

These cities are not alone. Communities being destroyed by reservoirs are so common there's a genre of fiction called “reservoir noir” that deals with intentionally flooded towns.

23. San Juan Parangaricutiro, Mexico

Image: Luis López Franco/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

San Juan Parangaricutiro used to be the principal town in its region of Mexico, a thriving city of 4000 people centered by an 18th century church. But on February 20, 1943, around two kilometers away, a volcano started forming on a farmer's land. After a day it was 150 feet high, and by the end of that year it was over a thousand feet.

Ash began covering nearby villages, and everyone was evacuated. There were only three recorded fatalities, all due to lightning from the eruption. Eventually, the lava reached San Juan Parangaricutiro and the church was partially buried. Today, it's a tourist site.

24. Hallsands, United Kingdom

Image: steve p2008/Flickr // CC BY 2.0

On the night of January 26, 1917, the fishing village of Hallsands in Devon fell into the sea. Amazingly, no one died, but the majority of the town's 128 people were left homeless (only one house survived the storm). And the cause was entirely human.

Twenty years earlier, the British government had decided to expand a nearby naval dockyard, and in 1897 began dredging the area for sand and gravel - the same material that was protecting Hallsands from the rough waters. In 1900, part of the sea wall was destroyed by a storm, and dredging was soon stopped. But in 1917, a combination of gales and high tides destroyed the city. While the government strenuously denied responsibility, recent research has uncovered a report that showed the dredging conclusively caused the collapse.

25. Lukangol, South Sudan

Image: Arsenie Coseac/Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Lukangol was a city of 20,000 in South Sudan that was completely destroyed in late 2011 due to ethnic clashes. According to an MSF spokesperson in the area, the town had been reduced to ashes, thought most of the population was able to escape before the attack.

26. Aravichy, Belarus

Image: Ilya Kuzniatsou/Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Much of the discussion of abandoned cities following the Chernobyl disaster is focused on Pripyat in Ukraine, but across the border, 70 percent of the radioactive fallout fell on Belarus, causing an estimated 470 villages and towns to be evacuated. Today, these communities, such as Aravichy and Dronki, exist in the Polessye State Radioecological Reserve, which has turned into a large scale nature preserve.

27. Plymouth, Montserrat

Image: Chuck Stanley/Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1995, the Soufrière Hills volcano began erupting, and in 1997 a pyroclastic flow destroyed the city of Plymouth, once home to 4000 people, and the surrounding area of Montserrat, a British territory in the Caribbean. Today, around 60 percent of the island is an exclusion zone that can only be visited with special permission, including Plymouth. What makes Montserrat odd is that Plymouth is still technically the capital of the island, although in reality the capital is Brades.

28. Survival Town, Nevada, USA

Image: Federal Government of the United States/Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Only a nickname, Survival Town is an odd city because no one ever actually lived there. It was built expressly to test the damage resulting from the Apple-2 nuclear test in 1955. According to Archaeology, the town was fitted with utilities, industrial buildings, cars, fully stocked kitchens, and even a propane tank farm alongside dozens of mannequins. Today, a few buildings survive from the site, but according to Colleen Beck of the Desert Research Institute, something more fashionable may also have survived. She told Archaeology in 2014 "There’s a J.C. Penney page - it must be from this test - that shows mannequins before and after… You have this 'before' picture of the dressed mannequin, and afterwards sometimes an arm's gone, or whatever. But the J.C. Penney clothes survive fine."

29. Akkad, Iraq

Image: Patrick Gray/Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The Akkadian Empire took its name from the capital city, Akkad (or Agade). And apart from that, very little is known of the city. Legend says that Sargon built the city (or possibly restored it) and created an empire in the 24th century BCE. The Akkadian Empire lasted around two centuries before collapsing over reasons that historians still debate. Today, the location of the capital city of the empire remains unknown, as do many of the details of its rise and fall.

30. Paititi, Peru

Image: icelight/Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Paititi is a legendary lost city somewhere in the Andes said to be rich with gold. Some scholars dispute its existence, saying that it was a metaphor instead of a city, or that it was created to distract invading Spaniards. Other scholars insist that it's real, and in 2008 officials in a Peruvian town announced that they discovered it along a heavily forested section of the mountains. Soon after, experts denounced their find as a natural formation, meaning the real Paititi remains lost.

Top image: Serjilla, one of the Dead Cities of Syria. Credit: upyernoz/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Mental Floss. Some images added.]